Entertainment Magazine

At Home: Blue Valentine

Posted on the 07 February 2012 by Desertofreel @Kob_Monney

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine

Tell me how I should be. Just tell me. I’ll do it.

What happens when the love is gone? According to Blue Valentine it’s filled with arguments, breakdowns in communication and a heart-rending attempt to fix a marriage beyond repair. Derek Cianfrance’s drama plays a bit like (500) Days of Summer except it’s packing a devastating punch to the gut.

With last year’s NC-17 controversy in the US firmly behind it and a solid amount of awards and nominations in its locker, Blue Valentine now exists as a film that offers insight in to the nature of modern relationships.  It’s unflinchingly raw as hopes and aspirations are derailed by reality; where rom-coms opt for fantasy as truth Valentine gets into the nitty-gritty, looking at two flawed characters who struggle to do what came so easily to them when they first met.

Ryan Gosling plays Dean, a once charming and good looking man who’s slipped into mediocrity. His wife Cindy, played by Michelle Williams, is a nurse who’s struggling to keep up a convincing facade to their marriage. The film shifts between the past (when they first met) and the present (their subsequent marriage), displaying the physical and emotional changes both have undergone, leaving the audience to wonder what happened to a relationship that had so much promise.

It’s not upbeat, favouring an authentic and harsh look at love and taking the characters into territory that’s hard to watch (one “sex scene” in particular is as far away from loving as you can get). What affects most is Dean’s attempt to salvage the marriage by taking Cindy to a couple’s motel, staving off the reason as to why their relationship has encountered difficulties by trying to rekindle a moment in their lives that’s gone. Like the motel room they stay in (the future room), their marriage is staid and artificial, with tender moments replaced by animosity. Gosling and Williams are both excellent and the low-fi look of the film adds to the realism, encasing their honest performances in a reality you don’t find in more mainstream films.

Blue Valentine is about missed opportunities, disappointments and responsibility (to each other) revolving around finding love that works. There’s one insightful scene with Williams and her character’s grandmother where she admits she never found love and it’s reflected in Cindy’s own parents, a partnership that’s fractious and untenable (interestingly, Cindy’s mother is nowhere to be seen in the present day scenes). Cianfrance delves into the things people don’t want to hear, let alone admit. Love is an intangible, ephemeral thing; if you don’t make it last it could end up wrecking you.



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